The Space Between… Art & Education

This is Your Brain on Art  

by Deborah Rudacille

Does art improve learning?   Should this be a question we need to be asked?

The article I’ve linked to above is an interesting, if frustrating, discussion on the lack of “hard” data for education theory.  That is to say – any education theory out there today.  But this particular piece focuses on the validity of integrating art into other subjects:  the music in math, the ballet of astronomy, the poetry of language…. (now that last one should be patently obvious without funding a study.)

“An early advocate of developing a pedagogy based on cognitive neuroscience (‘neuro-ed’ for short), Hardiman developed an ‘arts-integrated’ curriculum—using the arts as a teaching methodology—at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School while serving as the school’s principal from 1993 to 2006.”

“Based on her previous research and her experience at Roland Park, ‘I would guess that the kids who have done the work in an integrated way would have that knowledge more embedded in their memory,’ Hardiman says.”

Am I the only one who feels that this should be intuitive?

Sad that the Neuro-Education Initiative would even be necessary to help some educators accept the obvious importance of art & creativity to truly optimize the learning experience. There are many educational “philosophies” which place a priority on creativity and “art integration.” Most notably Montessori, and as mentioned in this article, Waldorf & the Reggio Emilia approach.

After reading this article I can’t help but wonder… Do we really require what would essentially amount to single-blind trials to tell us that subjects are more compelling, students are more involved with their learning experience, and information is more completely absorbed when creativity is firmly embedded in the equation?  I suppose if such research is necessary to convince those at the apex of the system of the validity of such a widely accepted “theory,” then we will certainly have an abundant control group to select from.

I think this little snippet is especially telling:

” ‘When you read about the medical practices of one hundred years ago, you think it’s crazy what people used to do,’ says Charles Limb, scientific director of the Neuro-Ed Initiative. ‘And one day we may feel the same about how we used to teach children.’ ”

That will be a cryin’ shame.

The article “This is Your Brain on Art,” written by Deborah Rudacille, was published in September of 2010 in the Urbanite magazine.  You can read it here:


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